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Spearfish Lake Tales
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Spearfish Lake Tales

Subject: Spearfish Lake Tales forum moved


Author:
Wes Boyd
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Date Posted: 07:30:45 06/16/16 Thu

The Spearfish Lake Tales forum has been moved to:

spearfishlaketales.freeforums.net


While Voy.com has been good to me for years, the time has come to move on, and this page will be kept open for archive purposes only. There doesn't seem to be a button to make it "read only" I will be setting the forum to be moderated and I won't approve any new posts to be published here.

-- Wes

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Subject: Test


Author:
Wes Boyd
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Date Posted: 09:50:47 06/10/16 Fri

Just testing. The board seems to be back up again, at least for now. I have been using Voy.com for something like fifteen years, and have noticed several outages over the years. I've learned to wait them out.

I have from time to time considered on going to a different forum setup. However, doing so would lose the archive, and would mean having to fix perhaps 70 pages on the site -- 44 of which have the same name (in different folders.)

Let's hope we're back up again.

-- Wes

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Subject: Photo Post of June 1, 2016


Author:
Boyd Percy
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Date Posted: 00:21:08 06/01/16 Wed

I noticed the photo post of June 1st of an older man carrying small American flags to place by the tombstones for Memorial Day. The tombstone in the back had the name Boies on it. The name seemed familiar. There was a minor character in Bradford Speedway named Don Boies. He was a young man who was an auto shop student of Mel Austin and later a racer at the Speedway after Mel and Arlene took over the track. He later was killed in Vietnam. Mel gave an annual trophy in memory of him to the best racer.

Wes, I know you like to have fun with your readers from time to time. Was that tombstone in memory of someone named Boies who died in Vietnam as a Memorial Day tribute?

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Subject: Sugar Daddies


Author:
Boyd Percy
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Date Posted: 14:20:33 05/29/16 Sun

Hiding Patty redux. There is even a website to facilitate this activity. This might not work as well for medical students since that is so time demanding.



http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/students-seeking-sugar-daddies-tuition-rent-39465311

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Subject: Macrodactyl Part 4: World Building


Author:
Wes Boyd
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Date Posted: 14:19:15 05/27/16 Fri

Where could people fly on a macrodactyl's back?

In my writing I try to stay away from fantasy and stick to things that can be extrapolated from reality. I haven't always been successful at it, but that's another story. In this case, I'm going to rule out approaches like Jurassic Park and time machines and at least try to stick to the realm of the vaguely possible, at least as we understand things at this time.

Interstellar space flight at less than light speed is at least theoretically possible, although there are plenty of engineering problems to be solved before someone sets out on a starship. I'm not going to get into those problems, but there are many good articles and books on the topic to pursue. I'd be willing to bet that it gets tried somewhere in the distant future assuming the world doesn't get too loused up along the way.

So, with that in mind, I'm going to wander into pure science fiction for a moment and do some world building. Actually, I've been working on this for some time, not that it's likely to turn into a story, but the macrodactyl fits right into the concept. This world, which I have not gotten around to naming, is vaguely Earthlike although smaller and denser with considerably more active plate tectonics. It is more geologically active overall, which among other things means more volcanoes.

The really important part of it is that it has an atmosphere with a sharper density gradient than earth. Air gets thinner with altitude, and it's more extreme here. On Earth, oxygen makes up about 21 percent of the air; on this world, it's closer to 40 percent, and there's more air to begin with. The important part of this is that humans are restricted to a rather thin layer of elevation; they can't get down to sea level because the oxygen partial pressure is high enough that they will suffer oxygen poisoning and die rather quickly. Conversely, they can't get too high in elevation without suffering oxygen deprivation, so there's a range of perhaps eight thousand feet in which humans can live.

It's pretty darn warm down in the lowlands because, like the greater air density change with altitude there is also a corresponding greater change in temperature with elevation than on Earth. It's also pretty darn cold year around at the high limit of human habitation, which narrows the human habitable band, too.

That this world is in a stage similar to the Earth's Cretaceous period, but where there hasn't been a Chicxulub dinosaur killer asteroid. In other words, it's in the late era of the dinosaurs. The lower elevations -- which partly overlap the area humans can handle -- are mostly dense jungle, which with a lesser percentage of ocean is part of why there's so much oxygen. Many of the "dinosaurs" eat vegetation, but there are some that hunt meat. The macrodactyls probably evolved to be so big so they could hunt bigger prey.

One of the reasons I decided to make the metrodactyls meat eaters is because of the greater energy available with the relatively small volume to process. I was going to make them plant eaters until I reflected upon cows, which have to eat high volumes of relatively lower energy food -- and then they have to dispose of that waste. I remembered a poem from when I was a kid that ended, "I sure am glad that cows don't fly." Falling manure is not a hazard you often see in science fiction stories. Incommmmminnngggg!

At some point someone decided to try and domesticate some of the smaller species. It worked for some, but not for others, but for whatever reason it was possible to tame a few lizards; eventually someone tried it with macrodactyls. The higher air density and oxygen pressure probably gave the macrodactyls a performance advantage over their similar species long ago and far away. You have to wonder about the person who would have been crazy enough to be the first person to try and ride a macrodactyl, but someone did it and over the years it has been moderately successful. Because of payload limitations, the riders had to be small and it might be strange to see a 90-pound woman training a beast with a 54-foot wingspan. But then it looks a little strange to see an even smaller 10-year-old kid at a fair on Earth leading and training a 2,000 pound steer, too -- yet it happens all the time in farm country with good 4-H clubs.

While I'm focusing on the flying lizards, this could be an interesting world in other ways. With humans restricted to elevations above sea level, areas of settlement are separated and might not be in real good communication with each other, which is why the metrodactyl riders are important. Our settlers have airplanes, of course, but they are few, far between, and need fuel while the metrodactyls can live off the land. The ocean is strictly a "no go" place, partly because of oxygen poisoning, but partly because there are things living in the ocean that would give a nuclear submarine pause if one were available.

The people of this world run rather small -- only rarely does anyone get over five feet or maybe 120 pounds. Although this helps with coming up with metrodactyl riders, I can think of a number of reasons why the people of this planet evolved over the generations into being little, only some of which involve the planet or deliberately breeding to ride the lizards. The human population is probably rather small (although I don't know how small "rather small" is) at least partly because this world is obviously a dangerous place and life can be short even if the settlers are careful.

There is a "critter problem," especially at the lower elevations, and the classic M-2 fifty-caliber machine gun isn't big enough to deal with the larger and more obnoxious species. The settlers have been forced to reinvent the rocket-propelled grenade. At the lower elevations it's necessary to live in armed fortresses and only till fields during daylight with a security team overwatch. It's still pretty dangerous -- and cold -- at higher elevations, but at least there the biggest and most obnoxious critters are altitude restricted too -- they can't handle the higher elevations or the cooler temperatures.

Fortunately the settlers have a lot of iron and heavier metals -- the planet has a high density, after all. They have built a couple of "tanks" to investigate the lower elevations, basically pressure vessels on treads, but they aren't used much because they're pretty dangerous and there are more important things to do, like survive.

What kind of society would evolve? What would the settlers be like? What stories would they tell? All I can say is that I might have to work on that one. I'm not really a science fiction writer, but every now and then I add a few twists to the backstory, even if I never write a book about it. It is something to think about, and at least I've had fun for a couple of days thinking about and researching this from the viewpoint of riding a prehistoric flying lizard.

I'm not sure that this is going to turn into a story or what, so I guess I'll just have to wait and see. Hope you enjoyed it!

-- Wes

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Subject: Spearfish Lakes site down?


Author:
Mark N
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Date Posted: 13:53:34 05/25/16 Wed

I've been trying the Spearfish Lakes site this morning, off and on, and the last couple of tries I got a Network Solutions Under Construction page.

Any idea when the site might be back up? I need the current chapter of Redeye!

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Subject: Unplugging the Colorado River


Author:
Jon
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Date Posted: 13:43:29 05/22/16 Sun

"Unplugging the Colorado River" is an New York Times op-ed pice in today's 22 May 16, edition.

Al Buck had mentioned his dislike of the Glen Canyon Dam in the Dawnwalker series

"Unplugging the Colorado River
Could the end be near for one of the West’s biggest dams?

WEDGED between Arizona and Utah, less than 20 miles upriver from the Grand Canyon, a soaring concrete wall nearly the height of two football fields blocks the flow of the Colorado River. There, at Glen Canyon Dam, the river is turned back on itself, drowning more than 200 miles of plasma-red gorges and replacing the Colorado’s free-spirited rapids with an immense lake of flat, still water called Lake Powell, the nation’s second-largest reserve."

read the entire piece at: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/22/opinion/unplugging-the-colorado-river.html?ribbon-ad-idx=6&src=trending&module=Ribbon&version=context®ion=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Trending&pgtype=article

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Subject: Baby Bison euthanized after ride in car


Author:
Boyd Percy
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Date Posted: 02:25:21 05/17/16 Tue

Wild animals are meant to be looked at but not touched. Some well meaning but ignorant individuals reportedly put a baby bison in their vehicle and took it to a ranger station because it looked cold and helpless. When the rangers tried to return it to the herd, the herd refused to except it back and it had to be euthanized


https://www.yahoo.com/gma/yellowstone-bison-calf-euthanized-visitors-reportedly-tried-rescue-012330083--abc-news-topstories.html

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Subject: Macrodactyl Part 3: Designing a macrodactyl


Author:
Wes Boyd
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Date Posted: 10:19:32 05/20/16 Fri

In thinking about the dream that started this line of thought, I realize now that I was reaching for the idea of a dragon. The traditional dragon flew, of course; we all have a mental image of one. In reality, the larger pterosaurs came about as close to the reality of a dragon as anything in the history of the earth.

Now, when I think about dragons and fiction, Anne McCaffrey's "Pern" books come quickly to mind -- people riding around on dragon-back. That's pretty fanciful, of course, but let's face it, we're dealing with fantasy anyway. But then when I ran across the Quetzalcoatlus northropi and Paul Macready's work on building a working half-size model, I got thinking real hard about the question of whether a human could have actually ridden a northropi, ignoring the 65 million year age problem.

Now, I'm not any kind of aeronautical engineer, but I've been exposed to the concepts a little from when I was a pilot long ago. I certainly do not have the knowledge or the intuition of Paul Macready. So, most of the aeronautics discussed here are taken from his article, "The Great Pterodactyl Project." I am not sure where this article was published, but it's taken from the Caltech online library.

When Macready and his research group analyzed what relatively small amount is actually known about the northropi, they came up with some baseline figures including a span of 36 feet, a weight of around 140 pounds, and an aspect ratio (wingspan versus width) of 8. For the sake of ease of construction the working model they built was about half that size, with an 18-foot wingspan, with the idea that it represented a miniature or immature version of the reptile.

With that great a wing span and aspect ratio, a northropi had to have had some of the characteristics of a sailplane, which is to say it can fly all day if it can find air going up. For our purposes, load carrying capacity involves being able to take off and climb, not just jump off a cliff. The ability to get off the ground and power up to soaring levels is what determines payload. Let's arbitrarily say that the lizard had to have sufficient structural integrity to accomplish that with a large enough prey to make it worth the effort.

How much could a pterosaur really haul besides its own weight? For that we have to turn to birds. An eagle weighing 10 to 14 pounds can pick up a small animal or fish weighing in the range of five to six pounds, so for the sake of discussion, let's say 40 to 50 percent of body weight. Recently there was a photo of a European Green Woodpecker with a Least Weasel riding on its back. It is a pretty awesome photo, and probably not faked for a number of reasons I won't get into here. There's no way of telling without examining the actual animals, but a typical weasel of that species weighs around two to three ounces, while the average weight of the woodpecker is in the six to eight ounce range. That isn't real helpful, but puts the payload capability of the woodpecker in the 25 to 50 percent range of its body weight. However, one of the series of photos seems to indicate the bird flying at a high pitch attitude, so it had to have had the power to climb well with the extra weight.

So, let's assume that the typical pterosaur had a possible payload of a third to a half of its body weight. For a 140-pound northropi, that means it would have had a maximum payload somewhere around 40 to 70 pounds. It might easily have been more, since payload percentage increases with size, but that will work as a baseline figure and stay within the envelope. At the upper end of its range, then, it could carry a very small human being such as a child, a pygmy, or a dwarf. Since it probably would fly at 25 to 40 miles per hour, the pilot is not going to be in bare skin -- so much for the bikini-clad temptresses of some science fiction covers, for they would be too cold and windblown. Hitting an insect could be painful. That means there would also have to be the weight of clothing added -- the pilot would wind up being dressed something like a World War I fighter pilot.

Really, we need something bigger to be useful. The northropi is the largest known pterosaur, but who is to say that the fossils of an even larger one might not be found someday? Being a little arbitrary, let's make it half again bigger. We are now talking about a wingspan of 54 feet, an empty weight of 210 pounds, and a payload of 70 to 105 pounds and perhaps more as payload increases with size, up to a point. In fact, let's fudge several areas and make the maximum payload around 125 pounds, which not abnormally small for an adult human. We'll call the result a macrodactyl. I have flown sailplanes of this size (although heavier) and they fly very nicely -- but they did not have the power to get off the ground or gain altitude under their own power. The northropi probably could do this if Macready was right, and that means the macrodactyl could do it, too.

Guidance and control are an issue. Let's say that the macrodactyl is no more intelligent than a horse but just about as trainable. Unlike the "Pern" stories where the rider controlled the dragon by thought, reins might be needed to guide the macrodactyl. That would be interesting, for a horse only has to understand left and right (well, all right, gee and haw) while the Macrodactyl also has to be guided for up and down, as well. But, it ought to be do-able.

Without getting into the details, a macrodactyl is at least theoretically possible on paper. It sure would be fun to fly on one's back -- but there's that little problem of 65 million years. That's what the next article in this series is all about.

-- Wes

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Subject: Macrodactyl Part 2: Modeling a dream


Author:
Wes
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Date Posted: 09:17:21 05/13/16 Fri

One of the problems of the Internet is the sheer amount of data out there, and the fascination you can have by learning about a subject that you previously only had a mild interest in, but find fascinating for some reason. I've never heard of this syndrome being defined or named, but it happens to me all the time.

Last week I wrote a rather fanciful column about a dream I had, where I observed what looked to be a cow-sized pterodactyl. Now, I wasn't absolutely sure how to spell the word, so I turned to the Internet. One thing led to another and I blew away the afternoon in the process.

I soon learned that pterodactyls were actually only about the size of a goose, or perhaps better, a blue heron. But somewhere in the past I remembered that there were bigger ones. The flying reptiles of the distant past were correctly called pterosaurs, and the biggest one known, Quetzalcoatlus northropi, had a wingspan that was perhaps as much forty feet. That's a size of a small airplane. (I find it interesting that the species name, northropi, honors Jack Northrop, the man who essentially made the flying wing a practicality.) Albatrosses have wingspans that reach eleven feet, for example, a pretty big wingspan for a bird that weighs less than twenty pounds.

Reading the article about the Quetzalcoatlus northropi was interesting. There have been scientists in the past who have speculated that a bird that large couldn't fly. However, it's pretty clear that this pterosaur could fly, and as I read down this article I came across a name I knew from my own past: Paul Macready, who was the guy that proved that the old dinosaur could fly well.

I met Paul Macready briefly once long ago; his specific interest was in low-power, low-speed high-efficiency flight. In the late 1940s he was three times the national soaring champion, and once world champion. But he's better known for his work on human-powered flight; you might remember the Gossamer Condor, which was the first human-powered plane to fly a figure eight, and the Gossamer Albatross, the first human powered plane to fly across the English Channel. He was involved with the first solar-powered airplane, too.

The Smithsonian Institution got Macready interested in the problem of pterosaur flight, and in 1984 threw a half-million dollars at him to build a half-scale model that could be used for an IMAX movie. Without getting to the details -- and they are fascinating -- Macready and his model pterosaur proved that control was a lot more complicated than anyone had realized, and that wings had to do several things at the same time. Macready and his cohorts wound up building a battery-powered radio-controlled model, in which a small computer handled the wing and other stability problems. This is nothing new; most new high-performance airplanes today are "fly by wire" in which a computer handles the difficult stuff while a pilot just tells it where to go. This model had a wingspan of eighteen feet, which he reasoned was all right to work on a model of an immature pterosaur.

Anyway, the QN, as it was called, worked. It had to be towed to get it off the ground but once there it could gain altitude on its own. In the few videos of the QN I found on the net, it didn't have the range of motion a bird has. I think it would be cool to see it fly, but it was destroyed in a crash when the radio control link failed. From what I can tell from web searching, there have been attempts to build larger versions with varying success, but they didn't have Paul Macready and a half-million 1984 dollars involved.

But my curiosity went on from there. I had always believed that orthinopters were pretty much a pipe dream, but no. A few years ago someone built a human-powered ornithopter, and several powered versions have been built. I saw another video of a small uncontrolled, pterosaur-shaped ornithopter flying around inside a guys workshop.

There are model ornithopters around, and some are quite successful. With all the media hassle about drones, I think it would be neat to have a bird (or possibly even a pterosaur) drone. Alas, I will never have that kind of money or interest.

It was a fascinating search, and it all came about because I wanted to spell pterodactyl correctly.

-- Wes

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Subject: Macrodactyl Part 1: Where do dreams come from?


Author:
Wes
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Date Posted: 11:19:52 05/06/16 Fri

Since I’m a writer by habit and hobby, the kind of dreams I have must be proof that I have an active imagination. For some reason I don’t often remember dreams but the one I had recently stuck with me for some reason.

In the dream, I came to awareness as I was driving down a gravel country road through beautiful rolling summer countryside. You know how sometimes you sort of drive on automatic and don’t remember actually doing the driving? It was sort of like that. The last memory I had was that I was driving southbound on a road like that, but I had no idea of where I was. Since the road was gravel, I reasoned that I couldn’t be as far south as Ohio, since they pave most of the country roads down there.

After some thinking about it I figured that a highway I knew had to be off to my right somewhere, but there were no roads leading to the right, just obvious driveways, but there were roads heading left which didn’t interest me. I just kept driving on south, wondering just where in the heck I was.

Eventually, I came out of some woodland and saw a lake in front of me. It was nicely blue on this summer day; I could see boats and rafts, with the usual collection of cottages along the lakeshore. The only problem was that I still had no idea of where I was.

I was pondering this when I saw a river tugboat come around the bend pushing a couple of barges. That made me realize that this wasn’t a lake, it was a river -- too big to be the Maumee, and too blue and narrow to be the Ohio. I would have had to drive a long way to make it that far south, anyway.

For some reason I stopped the car and got out to take in the scene. I was looking at the lake when I saw something dark gray floating in the water, ducking it’s neck under water to eat like a goose -- but that was no goose! It was the size of a cow, judging by a fishing boat not far away. Whatever it was, people didn’t seem to pay it any mind.

I was thinking about going back to the car to get out the binoculars (I always have a set in the car with me) when the thing in the water spread its wings and lifted off. Without the binoculars I couldn’t make out any details until it was above the horizon, and I could tell from the thing’s silhouette that it was no goose -- it looked like a pterodactyl (I can’t believe I spelled that correctly right out of my head, either!) I mean, it had the pterodactyl’s mostly flying wing configuration, with no tail to speak of.

I was still looking at the pterodactyl until it flew out of sight. Something weird was going on! I got back in the car, drove north for a ways, then east until I came on a little country restaurant I’ve stopped at in my dreams before. It hadn’t been real before, but now it was. I didn’t think I was asleep, since things had too much clarity. The only thing I could think of was that I must have driven through a time warp or some sort of gateway to an alternate world when I was zoned out (or maybe it was why I was zoned out.)

I could foresee all sorts of interesting new adventures and was eagerly anticipating them when my wife’s alarm clock woke me. She gets up two hours before I do; I usually sleep through it, but I didn't this time. Darn.

That was a fun dream and I would like to have enjoyed more of it. But it set me to thinking about things and contemplating possibilities, which we'll explore in the coming weeks.

-- Wes

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Subject: Reminder of Snowplow Extra


Author:
Susan
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Date Posted: 17:45:05 05/05/16 Thu

I'm surprised no one has mentioned this one yet... reminded me of Snowplow Extra when I saw it on the news at lunch.
http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/04/world/fort-mcmurray-fire-canada/index.html

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Subject: Navajo Bridge


Author:
John Gross
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Date Posted: 18:08:36 04/29/16 Fri

I was travelling from AZ to WA earlier in April by way of Marble Canyon and had a chance to stop and take some pictures from the Navajo Bridge. It was fun to imagine some of the scenes and references from the Grand Canyon related stories including "Down by the Riverside." I would post a couple of the pictures but don't see a way to do it. I'll add my thanks for the great stories you post on the site!!

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Subject: Redeye posting begins


Author:
Wes Boyd
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Date Posted: 18:32:54 05/01/16 Sun

I just posted the first chapter of Redeye. There are 24 chapters.

RTF files, mobis, epubs, and PDFs are available from the Spearfish Lake Tales Store Redeye page. Sales on Lulu for hardcopies, epubs and PDFs have also been enabled.

Preorders have been shipped.

Very often when I put up a new story there are html bugs that don't show up when I tested it locally. I will be around until around Midnight EDT to deal with any of those issues that you bring to my attention, or to ship out orders that have come in.

Have fun reading Redeye!

-- Wes

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Subject: down by the river


Author:
Mark Farmer
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Date Posted: 14:36:18 04/30/16 Sat

Down By The River struck me as a general clean up at first- what happened to so & so, how did that turn out, when did that happen. But as I read on, the pull of the story whirlpool started pulling me in its direction.

As I listened to Preach & Crystal reflect on the importance of a vision quest, I appreciated again Wes' s ability to quietly pull a reader into a perspective. And now, I want to know about this inquisitive girl from West Virginia who is juxtaposed with a woman who has seen too many undesirable answers.

someday, perhaps not in our lifetime, enough readers will tell others of these fascinating tales & Wes will be 'discovered.' We are fortunate.

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Subject: Kids and Robots


Author:
Wes Boyd
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Date Posted: 12:11:37 03/26/16 Sat

The FIRST Robotics Challenge is an increasingly popular event that brings the thrill of competition to technologically-oriented high school kids, and the competition I attended in March of 2016 was filled with fast and furious action, lots of noise and cheering, plenty of challenges and a good time for all.

This year's challenge, called "FIRST Stronghold" is complex -- it's developing a robot to compete in a medieval-appearing contest that vaguely resembles a basketball game. Robots will have to overcome a variety of physical obstacles while gathering "boulders" (actually balls about the size and weight of a basketball) and shoot them at openings in a "castle." If enough boulders can be shot into the castle, the robot will be able to score more points by climbing the castle wall.

If that wasn't enough, when it comes down to the actual game, teams of robots are formed. While the robots will be controlled remotely during part of the game, in parts of the game they will have to operate autonomously, without human intervention.

And, oh yes, the students have about six weeks to design, build, debug and practice with their creations before heading into competition. Not surprisingly, the kids involved in the competition aren't exactly the normal kinds you would expect to find around a high school sports event. The best description I can think of is that they're made up of the kinds of kids you'd expect to build a robot for fun. At the meet I attended, there weren't a lot of kids running around that you'd expect would know what to do with a football in their hands. Though there isn't a huge percentage of girls involved, they are present and from what I could tell tended to be among the serious competitors.

It's more than just kids and robots -- each team showing up brought their own cheering sections with them. With "FIRST Stronghold" having a vaguely medieval theme, there were cheering sections that were dressed about like you'd expect for a renaissance faire, and that just added to the fun. All the teams are known by their numbers, rather than by a school or team name, so there were people cheering for "5688" or whatever. Some teams had large numbers, even lighted ones, to hold up to cheer their robot on.

How well do the robots work? That's not easy to explain. They worked better than I expected, and worse, not necessarily depending on the team. In general, I would have to say they moved more jerkily and less controlled than I expected. There are some general rules for the robots but there is a lot of room for creativity, and sometimes it backfires. One team I watched had a four-wheel robot with a heavy top section that supposedly gave very accurate boulder shooting. However, I never saw it get a chance because with the high center of gravity, every time it hit an obstacle it went over on its back and stayed there for the whole two and a half-minute match. It looked good on paper but not on the playing court.

While competition is furious on the playing field, it's less so back in the pits and back home where the robots are built. There's a tradition of helping each other out, and if a new team runs into problems they know they can ask an older team for help and advice. Several times during the matches a robot got hung up on an obstacle, and when that happened often a neighboring team from the same alliance run their robot into the team in trouble in an attempt to knock them free, and it always drew huge cheers from the well-packed arena. There were no points given for sportsmanship but it was highly appreciated.

It's clear that these things are not built out of string and duct tape, although there was some of both to be seen. They're expensive little critters, and there's a lot of corporate support. You can see both the money invested in these things and the team pride just by walking through the parking lot, where I noticed several enclosed trailers lettered for this or that team. The kids get a lot of adult support from their advisors, and some of them are very knowledgeable about what they're doing.

It's a tough challenge -- but there are a number of smart, technologically oriented kids who are taking it on. They're having a lot of fun out of this, and they are learning things that weren't taught in school even a few years ago.

There are photos of this event on the shorts page, at http://www.spearfishlaketales.com/shorts/robot.htm.

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Subject: Graffiti in a National Park


Author:
Boyd Percy
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Date Posted: 23:26:48 04/28/16 Thu

No respect for nature.


http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/large-graffiti-carved-at-arches-national-park-in-utah/

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Subject: The Drew Crew


Author:
Wes Boyd
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Date Posted: 13:03:30 04/27/16 Wed

Another column picked up from the paper.

My hobby of writing novels leads me to some strange places sometimes, and last weekend it took me somewhere I never expected it to go.

I'll let the reasons go by, but they involved research for a character for one of my stories -- but a little bit of websurfing and trying to design this character led me to Nancy Drew.

Now, I'll have to admit that I never read a Nancy Drew story back when I was a kid. It was a girl's story, after all, so for a boy it was sort of beyond the pale. In fact, I don't recall reading many Hardy Boys stories, the older companion series to Nancy Drew. Now, these are all kid's books and I read others, but not these, for whatever reason.

But I have to admit that I got interested in Nancy Drew this weekend, and there proved to be more there than I thought.

It turns out that there have been over six hundred Nancy Drew stories written in various series over eighty-five years, and they're still going strong. Although "Carolyn Keene" appears on the cover as the author, the books have always been written by a series of ghostwriters. The original series ran to 175 books from 1930 up into the seventies. If you have a copy of one of the first thirty books of the series published before 1959, you have something valuable; first editions have gone for prices over over a thousand dollars, a real increase in value for a book that first sold for fifty cents.

The thing I find interesting and admirable about Nancy Drew is how much of a role model she's been for young girls for most of a century. Especially in her early period she was beautiful, brave, classy, sharp-tongued, independent teenager, who drove her blue roadster fast, flew planes, solved confusing mysteries but maintained her femininity. In reflection, Nancy was a very liberated woman for the 1930s and she must have had a subtle impact on how women of today view themselves.

A cultural icon, Nancy Drew is cited as a formative influence by a number of women, like Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Sonia Sotomayor and former First Lady Laura Bush. Feminist literary critics have analyzed the character's enduring appeal, arguing variously that Nancy Drew is a mythic hero, an expression of wish fulfillment,or an embodiment of contradictory ideas about femininity.

Carole Kismaric in The Mysterious Case of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys says "Convention has it that girls are passive, respectful, and emotional, but with the energy of a girl shot out of a cannon, Nancy bends conventions and acts out every girl's fantasies of power." Other commentators see Nancy as "a paradox -- which may be why feminists can laud her as a formative 'girl power' icon and conservatives can love her well-scrubbed middle-class values."

The character was conceived by Edward Stratemeyer, founder of the Stratemeyer publishing syndicate. Stratemeyer had created the Hardy Boys series in 1926, which had been such a success that he decided on a similar series for girls, featuring an amateur girl detective as the heroine. He was aware that the Hardy Boys books were popular with girl readers and wished to capitalize on girls' interest in mysteries by offering a strong female heroine.The thing I find ironic is that Stratemeyer believed that a woman's place was in the home, his vision created a character that broke through his own limitations.

The earliest Nancy Drew books were revised in 1959 and later, and one of the things that was lost was the feel of the era of the 1930s. Nancy's blue roadster became a blue convertible, and a lot of the other magic of the originals fell by the wayside. Even so, Nancy Drew remains a good read and a good role model for kids -- and I had fun discovering there was more story there than I thought. Not bad for an 86 year old teenager.

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Subject: Lonnie Mack


Author:
Kirby Lambert
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Date Posted: 15:03:18 04/25/16 Mon

Wes and all:

With all of the news about the death of Prince the loss of another has managed to fall into the cracks.

The guitar hero's guitar hero has passed. Lonnie Mack died this past Thursday April 21 at age 74. Lonnie was the first of the blues-rock guitar soloists and inspired the likes of Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Duane Allman, Bootsy Collins and the great Stevie Ray Vaughan.

SRV played along with Lonnie's recording "Wham" so many times that his father destroyed the record (a 45). SRV promptly went out and bought another copy and went back to practicing. SRV said that he learned to play by listening to Lonnie.

Because of Lonnie's use of a vibrato/tremelo bar on record "Wham" guitarist to this day call it a whammy bar.

I had the great good fortune to be house sound engineer for some of Lonnie's shows in the late 80's early 90's and I will never forget how that felt.

Lonnie's recording "Memphis" reached the top 5 of the charts in 1963 and was awarded a gold record. But Lonnie hated the business of the music business. He was a big old rough cut South Eastern Indiana farm boy who dropped out of school to play music after a fight with a 6th grade teacher.

Lonnie's chubby red neck looks did not go over well against the British Invasion.

His recording of Memphis is classed as number 1 in the list of the top 60 blues-rock recordings ahead of bands like Cream and the Allman Brothers.

As good as his guitar work was I still think that his blue eyed soul recordings were better. I cannot listen to his 1963 recording of "Where There's a Will there's a Way" without tears. He was as good of a hard gospel singer as Archie Brownlee.

Farewell Lonnie my life is better just from your passing through it.

Kirby Lambert

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Subject: Redeye, new book from SLT, now available for preorder


Author:
Wes Boyd
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Date Posted: 18:13:34 04/24/16 Sun

The next book from Spearfish Lake Tales, Redeye, is now available for preorder.

It's an "Independent" book and a real change of pace from Down By the Riverside. Here's the summary:

A “Roaring Twenties” gangster once owned a creepy old house deep in the woods near Wychbold. Some people think they have seen ghosts and are sure the place is haunted to protect ancient secrets. Unmarked graves have been found on the property, and buried treasure has also been found there. The place is inhabited by a crotchety old coot and his ghostly maid, who are rarely seen in daylight. Steve Taylor is invited for a visit and learns that, while there’s nothing supernatural happening, there is more than a grain of truth to all of the stories. He also learns that what’s going on behind the eerie façade is considerably more interesting than the rumors – and that some past events had been horrifying indeed. He certainly doesn’t expect what happens as he peels back the layers in the life of the mysterious Ann, the beautiful, reserved, and enigmatic woman who lures him there."

There are a total of twenty-seven chapters.

You can preorder Redeye for as little as $19.99 through the Spearfish Lake Tales Store Redeye page. Preorders will be sent sometime on the afternoon of May 1, Eastern Standard Time.

-- Wes

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Subject: Happy 200th birthday Charlotte Brontë


Author:
Andy Haworth
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Date Posted: 05:24:23 04/21/16 Thu

As I have a connection, and Myleigh visited the Parsonage, I thought it only right that Charlotte's Birthday be celebrated here.

[Thought bubble] "I wonder what Myleigh thought of the walk through Haworth"
http://www.photodays.co.uk/portfolio/haworth/large/Haworth-19032012-1675.jpg
[/Thought bubble]

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Subject: Jenny


Author:
Scott
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Date Posted: 22:13:22 04/14/16 Thu

Hi Wes -
I like to take big gulps - not sips - so while I'm waiting for Riverside to finish posting I started Busted Axel for the third reading, and it occurred to me that this is the story where Jennifer Evachevski comes the closest to being the central character. Seems to me her other appearances are mostly as a peripheral player. Are you ever going to write the Jenny Easton story? I'd sure I, and a lot of other SLT fans, would enjoy reading "Smoke Filled Room". Any plans to write it? Sorry if I'm asking something you've answered a thousand times before, I just started reading the forum and haven't delved very deep yet. Thanks for the hundreds of hours of enjoyment you've spent thousands of hours providing!
Scott

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Subject: In praise of kilts


Author:
Boyd Percy
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Date Posted: 01:05:41 04/12/16 Tue

I saw this short video and it reminded me of Jason and Duane Macrae.


https://www.yahoo.com/travel/why-every-man-wear-kilt-140000822.html

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Subject: New Spearfish Lake Location Info


Author:
Ed Greenberg
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Date Posted: 06:36:39 04/08/16 Fri

Wes,

I recall that Spearfish Lake was supposed to be located "two inches behind your eyes."

Now i read:

"Spearfish Lake is well up in the western part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and it’s pretty lonely and empty there, especially in the winter, so they were glad to be getting back to civilization. "

Is this a new revelation, or have you placed SFL this precisely before?

Best,

Ed G

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Subject: Havasu Creek


Author:
Jon
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Date Posted: 21:51:51 04/04/16 Mon

Been doing some virtual hiking and river running using Google Maps.

Tracing the length of Havaau Creek upriver from the Colorado River past Mooney Falls and into Supai.

Looks like the White Team is taking a break at the mouth of Havasu Creek, as six blue rafts are beached on the downstream side of the creek mouth.

I can't decide just where Nanci's special rock ledge is located. This is where the White Team holds their Sunday services.

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Subject: Remembering the Polekitty


Author:
Wes
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Date Posted: 08:55:15 02/11/16 Thu

Another column picked up from the paper.

My wife and I have always had cats. Simply speaking, we like having pets around, and our experience has been that cats take less maintenance and looking after than dogs. Besides, I like the graceful way most cats move even when they're being clumsy, and we have had a fair amount of that.

Our first cat, which we got as a kitten shortly after we got married almost forty years ago, was a long-haired but small for the breed Maine Coon, although he was actually a pretty big cat. We were driving him home, throwing around possible names; being an astronomical buff at the time most of mine were of some object in the sky. I had just thrown out the name "Polaris" when he said "Mew," and that settled it. Polaris he stayed for the rest of his life of, as I recall, about fifteen years.

Polaris proved to be well named. In fact, there were times I called him "Polaris, the feline missile." Of all the cats we've had over the years, and we have had many, he was the best jumper and liked the view from the heights much more than any of the others. How he got to some of the places he managed to get was and still is beyond me.

The bed in our first apartment was right in front of a window; it really was the only good place for it. We kept the drapes closed, but that didn't slow the Polekitty (as I often called him) down any. He would jump from the bed onto the window divider, which was only about an inch and a half or so wide -- he was a lot wider than it was by this time -- and from there up onto the curtain rod. He would sit up there at the top of the room checking things out in his catlike way until he got bored and decided to get down. No crawling down; he jumped -- after all, it was onto a bed.

The heck of it was that he would do this in the middle of the night as much as in the middle of the day, and at night he would land right between Kathy's and my sleeping heads. This was a rude way to be awakened to say the least, but after a while we reached the point where we could go right back to sleep.

In later years when we moved to different places, he was always one to explore the high places. I think he enjoyed the jumping down as much as anything, and we didn't think too much when he hit the floor with a WHUMP from six or eight feet.

I miss the Polekitty. He's been gone a long time now, but he was one to remember.

Our current senior cat, Loki, is actually one of Amanda's -- she collects cats as much as her parents do, and fortunately her husband likes cats, or at least is gentlemanly enough not to complain about them. Loki doesn't actually look much like Polaris -- he's a short-hair to begin with -- but if I don't watch myself I'll call him by the wrong name anyway.

Loki has never been much of a jumper or a high country cat, but he does like to get up on the bathroom counter and drink from the faucet if we leave a thin stream of water running. He's taught that little trick to other cats recently, so the first thing I have to do when I get home is to turn on the water for the cats, and I often have a line waiting their turn at the sink.

The thing is that Loki is seventeen years old, and he's had difficulty being able to jump up on the counter for some time. A year or two ago we started keeping a stool in front of the counter so he could make it up to the sink, but now he's having trouble making it up that high. I think I'm going to have to dream up and make some kind of a two-step stool so he can continue to enjoy this little quirk of his.

We like our cats, and we go out of our way to accommodate them. Maybe it's like some people say in that they do own us, but they've given us a lot of enjoyment over the years and I don't know what we would do without them.

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Subject: "No" says Heather Provencio supervisor of the Kaibab national forest


Author:
Andy Haworth
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Date Posted: 22:33:27 03/13/16 Sun

Quote - "Plans for a huge commercial development that would transform a tiny town near the edge of the Grand Canyon have been thrown out by federal officials in a surprise victory for conservation and indigenous interests – but campaigners warn that the world famous natural wonder remains in peril.

Tusayan, in northern Arizona, has a few low-key hotels and a population of just 560.

A mile from the entrance to Grand Canyon national park, it is the last settlement tourists pass through, if they even notice it, before entering the park to gawp into the spectacular sandstone abyss."

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/mar/13/grand-canyon-commercial-development-tusayan-conservation

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Subject: regards: down by the river-24


Author:
Leo Kerr
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Date Posted: 20:45:22 03/25/16 Fri

"...Of all the gifts we have received
One is most precious and most terrible
The will of each of us is free
It's in our hands

And if one day we hear a voice
If He should speak again, our silent father
All He will tell us is the choice
Is in our hands..."

Finale, "Children of Eden".

Normally I don't look to American Musical Theatre for deep thoughts, but that one always struck me as a good one.

(For those who don't know, which I expect to be most people, "Children of Eden" is basically Creation through Cain, and Act II is The Flood. It's a really fun musical, and for the most part, the parts can be handled quite well by high school voices. Only two parts are challenging for that age-group, but if you're lucky, you can find them.)

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Subject: Photo Post picture


Author:
Jim Scott
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Date Posted: 20:31:39 03/24/16 Thu

There is no picture in the Photo Post block tonight.

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Subject: Hopi prayers in GC during raft trips to help young vets wash away evils of war


Author:
The Mage
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Date Posted: 20:30:25 03/20/16 Sun

I'm a vet and a member of the American Legion. I just received my April edition of The American Legion Magazine. There is a wonderful article about wounded vets being helped by Hopi priests in the Grand Canyon run by 'Operation Comfort Warriors'

www.legion.org/grandcanyonwariors

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Subject: Twin Sisters, Twin Harps


Author:
K Pelle
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Date Posted: 15:24:55 03/14/16 Mon

Thought some folks might be interested in this:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/harp-twins-newfoundland

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Subject: Take that Starbucks


Author:
Kirby Lambert
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Date Posted: 16:30:50 03/18/16 Fri

I always made sure to stop at Tim Horton's when I was in Canada, but this is a bit strong. I still think they have the best coffee and pastries!

http://www.salon.com/2016/03/18/man_arrested_after_forcing_toronto_bus_to_tim_hortons/

Kirby

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Subject: Drunk? Or intentional?


Author:
K Pelle
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Date Posted: 16:04:02 03/17/16 Thu

I know from experience that there are a lot of people who are less than enthused about sled dog races, but this is a bit too much for me to accept.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/aliy-zirkle-recounts-iditarod-attack-1.3495819

kp

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Subject: Other life events, interests ???


Author:
Randall Vandusen
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Date Posted: 06:33:00 03/17/16 Thu

One point of life I have not heard in these stories but seems to be of interest to life in rural Wisconsin is the county fair. I can't imagine it is much different in the UP, or lower Michigan.

Other questions on interest, what happens to a region when a major Air Force Base shuts down, that being KI Sawyer AFB by Marquette MI in 1995 after 40 years.

Besides one rich homeowner with a windmill house, has any one else gone off the grid, again popular, in the north country, note a major solar and wind energy event in Custer Wisconsin (by Stevens Point) every June for the last 20 years.

Have any of the musical groups played Summerfest in Milwaukee?

Are there any mini breweries in the region? Why and How?

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Subject: Think you might find these photos interesting


Author:
Andy Haworth
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Date Posted: 05:21:34 03/04/16 Fri

Pictures of the USAAF during WW2, mainly in England. The full collection is being exhibited at the Imperial War Museum.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-35699521

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Subject: Pulling Even now available at Amazon, B&N and Kobo


Author:
Wes
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Date Posted: 10:42:39 03/11/16 Fri

Pulling Even is now available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo for $4.99. I have cut the prices on this book at the Spearfish Lake Tales Store and on Lulu to match.

Links to the various stores are available at the Spearfish Lake Tales Store Pulling Even page, where there is a book description.

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Subject: Chapter 15


Author:
Boyd Percy
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Date Posted: 00:57:47 03/04/16 Fri

Shouldn't the date for Chapter 15 be July 4-5?

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Subject: Down by the Riverside and the Evangelical ministry


Author:
Steve Ogden
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Date Posted: 01:46:46 02/29/16 Mon

I'm enjoying Down by the Riverside very much indeed.

Back in the early seventies I attended a boys camp in North Devon which was run by a Christian group. Although it never took hold I ended up reading both "The Cross and the Switchblade" by David Wilkerson and "Run Baby Run" by Nicky Cruz.

Although reflecting their times, if anyone is interested in some of the themes in Riverside they're both thought provoking reads and, another advantage, very readable.

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Subject: Down By the Riverside posting begins


Author:
Wes
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Date Posted: 19:15:19 01/31/16 Sun

I just posted the first chapter of Down By the Riverside. There are 42 chapters.

RTF files, mobis, epubs, and PDFs are available from the Spearfish Lake Tales Store Down By the Riverside page. Sales on Lulu for hardcopies, epubs and PDFs have also been enabled.

Preorders have been shipped.

Very often when I put up a new story there are html bugs that don't show up when I tested it locally. I will be around until around Midnight EDT to deal with any of those issues that you bring to my attention, or to ship out orders that have come in.

Have fun reading Down By the Riverside!

-- Wes

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Subject: Happens this side of pond as well


Author:
Andy Haworth
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Date Posted: 11:20:20 02/16/16 Tue

Two brothers put obscene msg about judge on facebook after getting lenient suspended sentence for drug dealing. They are now back inside, while the Judge decides their fate.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-35588776

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Subject: Gus Wilson Model Garage


Author:
Alex Scott
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Date Posted: 12:23:03 02/21/16 Sun

In Bradford Speedway Mel Austin mentions how much he enjoyed Model Garage in Popular Science magazine. I did too. I just found a site with ALL the stories from 1925 thru 1970.
http://gus-stories.org/index.htm
Enjoy

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Subject: New on TV


Author:
Skip
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Date Posted: 13:28:50 02/19/16 Fri

For those of you who can get the National Geographic Channel, This morning they showed two one hour specials titled "The Appalacian Trail, and The Grand Canyon." Both were well cone and I saw the AT for the first time, and the Canyon as Inever have before. If you can watch either they are worth it.

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Subject: Lulu epub link fixed


Author:
Wes
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Date Posted: 21:54:30 02/14/16 Sun

I just found out that the link from the store page to the Lulu E-pub page has been busted since the store page first went up. It's fixed now if you want to make the order from Lulu.

-- Wes

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Subject: Yukon Quest Dogsled race - week 1 in pictures


Author:
K Pelle
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Date Posted: 18:21:58 02/13/16 Sat

http://www.cbc.ca/news?ref=rss

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Subject: Another crossover character?


Author:
Jerry
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Date Posted: 12:59:25 02/11/16 Thu

In "Susan", Mizuki Takashita mentions an English teacher she met in Japan, who had taught English all over the world.

Would that be Catalina Smith?

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Subject: Has Learjet jen moved on


Author:
IanS
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Date Posted: 21:03:44 01/10/16 Sun

Under noise rules the lear 20 series can no longer fly in much of the world so I wondered what Jen flys now.
Also reading airliners.net some pilots have a low opinion of the aircraft.
Read
http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/tech_ops/read.main/355728/
for some interesting info even though it goes into praise for the jetstar halfway through.

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Subject: Edgar Mitchell R.I.P


Author:
Boyd Percy
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Date Posted: 21:42:26 02/05/16 Fri

I just read that astronaut Edgar Mitchell (Apollo 14) died yesterday on the eve of his 45th anniversary of walking on the moon. Wes had his characters, Mark and Jackie, witness the launch of Apollo 14 in his first book, Rocinante, though he took some artistic liberty in dating it in April, 1971 instead of February, 1971.

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Subject: suggestive impression


Author:
Leo Kerr
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Date Posted: 21:08:13 01/12/16 Tue

Just read Birdwatcher Hill Fire Chapter 20.

Okay, it's January; we've got an approaching front that's supposed to drop our temperatures 20 or so degrees (f).

Still-- we've had so many summer squalls pass over us, I was wondering where the thunder had been.

And I had the dubious privilege once of being way too close to a lightning flash. Although for me, the lightning wasn't a ground strike -- or at least not close. But it was close enough that I heard the "dry" lightning crackle almost synchronous with the flash, and *then* heard the boom from all around... I can't recall transiting from where I had been standing to being inside the house, but obviously, I did move..!

In retrospect, it's kind of neat. Watching a movie can be a relatively passive experience; the sensations of reality are largely presented to you in most movies, rather than suggestions left to your own imagination and experiences. Here, a few words not-glowing (black text on white,) on a screen can transmit an almost physiological impression of having been in the storm.

Leo

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Subject: Down By the Riverside now available for preorder


Author:
Wes
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Date Posted: 10:16:16 01/25/16 Mon

The next book from Spearfish Lake Tales, Down By the Riverside, is now available for preorder.

This book is the first addition to the Dawnwalker Cycle in four years, and takes us back to the Grand Canyon once again, back in the period of 2002-2005.

Here's the summary:

The Grand Canyon can change lives, and with the help of some of the people and things Nanci Chladek found there it changed hers more than most. Once a prisoner of many irresponsible bad choices, she had been near ending her life. Her dramatic turn away from the life she'd once led cleaned up her act and had made her become pretty religious as she learned to be a Grand Canyon boatman. With a future in front of her that she had once nearly given up on having, she has to figure out what to do with it. It will take her family, her friends, and her newfound faith to help her work it out.

There are a total of thirty-nine chapters.

You can preorder Down By the Riverside for as little as $19.99 through the Spearfish Lake Tales Store Down By the Riverside page. Preorders will be sent sometime on the afternoon of January 31, Eastern Standard Time.

If you're interested in Nanci's backstory, part of it is in Dawnwalker, and part in Canyon Fires. She is also mentioned in several other Dawnwalker stories.

-- Wes

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Subject: Forum back up


Author:
Wes
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Date Posted: 10:04:04 01/25/16 Mon

The forum is obviously back up again. It was down over the weekend, and I got several e-mails pointing it out to me. Thanks, everyone!

I was not terribly worried about it, since this has happened before. Considering the timing, I had it in my head that the forum's server must have been knocked out by the big blizzard over the weekend -- but when I checked this morning, I discovered the server is located in Los Angeles. So much for that theory, although I'm amused by the thought of what two to three feet of snow would do to Southern California!

The voy.com server has not always been the most reliable thing in the world, but it's very easy to administer and the price has always been right. I've had forums on voy.com for coming up on fifteen years and have mostly been satisfied with it. I have from time to time considered moving the forum elsewhere, but it would be a lot of work -- among other things, I would have to modify something like sixty web pages. On top of that, whatever I came up with would probably be more complicated to administer than what I have now.

So, I'll keep on keeping on, at least for the time being.

-- Wes

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Subject: Fire Train


Author:
Rob
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Date Posted: 00:07:58 01/20/16 Wed

A thought occurred to me while reading this chapter. After googling "fire train" one of the links was to this news article.

http://www.firerescue1.com/fire-products/fire-apparatus/articles/2199749-Firefighting-train-used-in-Ariz-wildfire/

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Subject: chapter 19


Author:
carlton
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Date Posted: 22:48:45 01/10/16 Sun

There appears to be some data corruption in chapter 19

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Subject: Talking of old plane flights


Author:
Andy Haworth
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Date Posted: 06:49:51 01/09/16 Sat

You probably won't have got this news outside of UK or Australia. But a young Brit woman, Tracey Curtis-Taylor has just flown the 21,000km (13,125 miles) journey in an 1942 Boeing Stearman.

http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/jan/09/i-need-a-drink-british-woman-lands-in-sydney-after-21000km-flight-in-vintage-biplane

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Subject: Prophetic Timing ?


Author:
Mark
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Date Posted: 19:25:07 01/08/16 Fri

Rather prophetic timing with this story as we are currently into day four of a bushfire here in Southwest Western Australia at the moment.At the moment it has burnt out over 600 square kilometers of land including more than 120 homes and numerous businesses,most in the township of Yarloop(over a third of the town is gone including all businesses and the school,police station and historic museum).Thankfully no lives lost to date.

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Subject: Birdwatcher Hill - map?


Author:
howard
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Date Posted: 00:27:04 12/23/15 Wed

Would love to see a map of the area in this story, I think it would enhance it. The maps already available on the site don't seem to cover this area. I bet Wes has a detailed map in his head!
-- howard

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Subject: Thoughts on New Year's Eve


Author:
Wes
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Date Posted: 15:53:55 12/31/15 Thu

With the end of the year I often tend to get a bit retrospective, and this year is no different.

It was a pretty good year for writing if not a great one. I completed four books, but fell just a little short of my normal annual goal of 624,000 words, which is what is usually needed to service Spearfish Lake Tales. At that it's a big improvement from last year when I didn't even get halfway to my goal.

I don't remember the exact date, but sometime in the next few days will be the ninth anniversary of the website. At this moment, there are enough books waiting in the queue to get Spearfish Lake Tales through February of 2019. I have said for some time that if it gets to the point where I only have a two-year lead built up that I will cut posting to twice a week. It looks as if that point will still be a while in the future and I feel I have a good chance this year to push the evil date past the turn of the decade. Incidentally, if something should happen to me (and at my age it's always a possibility) my daughter and son-in-law are prepared to carry on posting while the supply of new stories lasts.

I can write pretty fast when I have a good idea, but sometimes those good ideas are hard to come by. I would not mind coming up with a good one or two in the next few days since a hundred or two hundred thousand words would make the next couple of dreary winter months much more tolerable, but there's no telling if the right idea will come along.

I have several projects in progress that are partly completed, but they all have problems to solve, and the simple desire to work on them is one of them. When a book stalls for me, I think my subconscious is telling me that it's not ready to be completed. For example, I have a character in one book who I really like; she's very memorable, but I have come to the conclusion that the story I have her in is not right for her. I don't know what the right one is, but I'm working on it. It will come to me sometime.

2016 is shaping up to be an interesting year on the site. The first new book of the year will be a continuation of the "Dawnwalker" series, the first new book in the series since Icewater and the Alien almost four years ago. It will start the first of February.

Next up, starting in May, will be another independent where a young engineer meets a most unusual young woman. Following that will be the next in the "Bird" series, although Jack and Vixen will only be minor characters in this one. Following that will be another of the "Bullring Days" series, possibly the last one unless I decide to write another one, something I have kicked around for years. The last new book of the year, starting in November, is still undecided but there are three very good candidates all jostling for position.

I will complete this New Year's Eve missive by saying that I always enjoy hearing from my readers, either by e-mail or on this forum. Discussions about stories always help to spur me on to further work, and make the effort I take seem worthwhile. Don't be shy!

With that, I think I will send this off, and get back to work on developing more for you to read. Happy New Year!

-- Wes

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Subject: Birdwatcher Hill Fire - chapter 14 fact check


Author:
Shadowhawk
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Date Posted: 05:43:17 01/01/16 Fri

Thank you for a good new chapter.

That said I have a few questions about veracity of some things.

First is about Jackie and Becca. Would cell phone service be available in the plane flying at their altitudes, and would SpearfishLake have enough cell phone tower coverage? Wouldn't a radio be a better idea? Does the type of plane Rocinante is have a good view down to check the fire - it is not helicopter nor Edgley EA-7 Optica?

Second about beach/sand court volleyball at West Turtle Lake. Do the play it in the nude: because breast bouncing and sand getting into intimate areas would be a problem?

Regards,
--
Shadowhawk

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Subject: Warm Solstice to you


Author:
Wes
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Date Posted: 10:03:46 12/23/15 Wed

I'm writing this on Monday the twenty-first, which happens to be the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.

This is the day that the sun turns around in the sky and starts its trek back northwards toward summer, or at least so it seems to those who are thinking in earthbound terms. The change in the amount of daylight is actually a function of the Earth's axial tilt; simply put, in our summer, the northern hemisphere is pointed more toward the sun.

It's summer now in the southern hemisphere, and my daughter's English in-laws know it since they are visiting Australia right now. They are used to the damp if not terribly cold English winters, so are suffering under 95 degree (F) temperatures and lots of sun. I could manage that, but it would be a reach since I'm acclimatized toward winter now.

Interestingly, the Earth's orbit is slightly egg-shaped, and in northern hemisphere winter we are slightly closer to the sun than we are in summer, not that it makes any difference in the temperature.

The amount of daylight we get changes slowly this time of year, but now that the Winter Solstice is out of the way, the days are slowly getting longer, but so little it's hard to tell unless you're a keen observer. In a month the change will come more quickly. By the Vernal Equinox, the first day of spring, the change will amount to several minutes each day.

The shortest day of the year has been important in many cultures and has been for centuries. Stonehenge was probably built to keep track of the solstices and equinoxes, and that was thousands of years ago. There are the remnants of other primitive observatories in many parts of the world, and most were probably used for the same purpose.

Many peoples around the world have celebrations around the Winter Solstice, either on the day or a few days away. Why the fixation on partying in midwinter, anyway? According to historians, it's a natural time for a feast. In an agricultural society, the harvest work is done for the year, and there's nothing left to be done in the fields.

"It's a time when you have some time to devote to your religious life," said Philip Shaw, who researches early Germanic languages and Old English at Leicester University in the U.K, commented on a website. "But also it's a period when, frankly, everyone needs cheering up."

"The dark days that culminate with the shortest day of the year -- the winter solstice -- could be lightened with feasts and decorations. If you happen to live in a region in which midwinter brings striking darkness and cold and hunger, then the urge to have a celebration at the very heart of it to avoid going mad or falling into deep depression is very, very strong," he said.

The celebration in the heart of darkness takes many forms, and Hanukkah and Christmas are the ones we are most familiar with. Some things have changed from the old Pagan days, and others, not so much -- it's a time for banquets, partying, and for many, for celebrating religous tradition.

Some scholars believe that the birth of Christ took place in the spring, and in the early history of the church the celebration of the birth was moved to the Winter Solstice so that people could pay more attention to it -- and to co-opt the traditional pagan Yule holiday and Roman Saturnalia, which took place on the Winter Solstice.

These days the Winter Solstice itself doesn't make all that much different, because you can get rid of the darkness with the flick of an electric light switch. But that doesn't matter, since the winter holiday celebation is still a very powerful season. Behind the Jingle Bells and Christmas sales lies a very powerful tradition that predates the word "Christmas" itself.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Spectacular Saturnalia, Cheerful Yule and Warm Solstice to you!

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Subject: Machine Screws


Author:
Jon
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Date Posted: 19:45:48 12/13/15 Sun

Looking for 8-24x3/4” machine screws, shouldered if possible. Note this is 8-24 or coarse thread, NOT 8-32!

Screws are used for built-in furniture in my house. The screws attach from the rear into drawer and door pulls. The furniture being a “breakfront” or built-in china cabinet in each dining room of my 2 flat apartment (Craftsman interior, brick Four Square exterior) building built in 1914. Wood species is furniture “grade”, fine grained (old growth!) 5/4 red oak. Construction/assembly is dovetailed drawers with door frames rabbeted & doweled. Glass in doors and mirrors are beveled. Interior rear walls is beaded oak and shelves red oak planks.

From what info I can dig up this size was “discontinued” in the late 1940’s per a description in my father’s 14th Edition, 1951 publish date, Machinery’s Handbook. MH indicated this size/pitch was also used in gunsmithing.

I have verified the thread pitch with a pitch guage and shaft diameter with a calipers. My efforts were double checked by a local machine shop.

The machine shop offered to re-tap with a 8-32 bottoming tap so I could substitute a “modern” screw. As a bit of a purist, I’d like to stay with the current 8-24 screws. There are a total of 35 screws.

What I’m looking for is 50 screws and 10 nuts in 8-24 pitch. Screws could be longer than 3/4”, using a nut on the longer shaft and cutting down to the proper length, then “restoring” the threads by unscrewing the nut. Extra screws & nuts would be saved for future use.

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Subject: A petiton for fans of Myleigh


Author:
Andy Haworth
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Date Posted: 09:38:04 12/21/15 Mon

'Ferndean Manor', home of Mr. Rochester in Charlotte Bronte's 'Jane Eyre' is under dire threat - as is the picturesque and inspirational Bronte Way, which starts at Ferndean Manor and leads to Bronte Parsonage Museum, Haworth. Called Wycoller Hall in real life, Ferndean Manor is the centrepiece of the gorgeously romantic Wycoller hamlet clustered around a stream at the heart of Wycoller Country Park. Its moody scenery and residents inspired the Bronte sisters.

https://www.change.org/p/lancashire-county-council-save-jane-eyre-s-ferndean-manor-and-the-bronte-way-heritage

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Subject: Ryan's wife


Author:
Mike
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Date Posted: 11:35:13 12/18/15 Fri

Wes,

Chapter 9 has this in it :
"The problem was that Ryan’s wife was a schoolteacher" - er, isn't that Randy's wife, not Ryan's ?

Mike

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Subject: The Birdwatcher Hill Fire - letting small fires burn


Author:
Shadowhawk
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Date Posted: 04:13:22 12/14/15 Mon

Chapter 7:

Fighting forest fires is a specialized business, with no small number of conflicting philosophies and interests involved. Generally speaking, the DNR’s policy was to let small fires of natural causes burn themselves out to lessen the fuel loading in the woods and allow natural succession to take place. Fire is, after all, one of the forces of nature, and it’s part of the way that forests renew themselves. Andy didn’t particularly agree with that policy, for he knew very well that small fires, if left uncontrolled, have a way of turning into big ones. He admitted regularly that the “let it burn” philosophy was at least partly driven by fire-fighting budgets that had been getting tighter and tighter each year, since other things seemed to have a larger demand on the limited amount of state dollars available. That meant that he only had limited of resources to throw at a fire.

Actually, according to the article in Scientific American that I have read, fighting every small forest fire makes for accumulation of fuel (for fuel loading, as it was said), and for gigantic fires that get out of control.

Though controlled burn of small fires would be a better idea, if resources allows...

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Subject: Site to be down


Author:
Wes
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Date Posted: 18:49:10 12/05/15 Sat

The hosting company will be performing server maintenance about 11:30 PM on Tuesday, Dec. 9. Spearfish Lake Tales will be down for a while, perhaps up to half an hour.

-- Wes

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Subject: The Birdwatcher Hill Fire posting begins


Author:
Wes
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Date Posted: 18:09:50 11/29/15 Sun

I just posted the first chapter of The Birdwatcher Hill Fire. There are 37 chapters.

RTF files, mobis, epubs, and PDFs are available from the http://www.spearfishlaketales.com/store/42bhf.htm"> Spearfish Lake Tales Store Promises to Keep page. Sales on Lulu for hardcopies, epubs and PDFs have also been enabled.

Preorders have been shipped.

Very often when I put up a new story there are html bugs that don't show up when I tested it locally. I will be around until around Midnight EDT to deal with any of those issues that you bring to my attention, or to ship out orders that have come in.

Have fun reading The Birdwatcher Hill Fire!

-- Wes

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Subject: Promises to Keep


Author:
howard
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Date Posted: 08:49:09 11/29/15 Sun

Cute tale. Looks like the possibility has been kept open for a sequel.

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Subject: New book, The Birdwatcher Hill Fire, now available for preorder


Author:
Wes
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Date Posted: 19:07:08 11/22/15 Sun

The next book from Spearfish Lake Tales, The Birdwatcher Hill Fire, is now available for preorder.

This book is the tenth in the "New Spearfish Lake" series, and is the third in the "Bird" subseries featuring Jack Ericson and Vixen Hvalchek. The timing is a little odd in that it takes place between the next to last and the last chapters of Bird on the Field.

Here's the summary:

Jack and Vixen are searching a remote area of woods around Spearfish Lake for an eagle's nest -- but they find a forest fire instead. The woods are very dry, and fast action is needed to keep the small fire from turning into a major disaster. It is a busy and fast-paced day for local volunteer firemen, railroad workers, Randy from Clark Construction, and others from around Spearfish Lake including members of the local nudist resort, and the two high school-aged birders are right in the middle of it.

There are a total of twenty-seven chapters.

You can preorder The Birdwatcher Hill Fire for as little as $19.99 through the Spearfish Lake Tales Store The Birdwatcher Hill Fire page. Preorders will be sent sometime on the afternoon of November 28, Eastern Standard Time.

-- Wes

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